While you have probably heard of the Social Network, the star of the next hit the Real Estate Network is “The Matchmaker” and co-founder of The Next Step Realty, Blair Brandt. The company that recently celebrated it's one year anniversary on April 10, 2011, is working hard on Season 2. After graduating early from the University of Richmond, Brandt returned to his home in Palm Beach, Florida working as a real estate broker.
His eventual co-founder Belton Baker returned from the University of Chapel Hill to Palm Beach, Florida and noticed a lot of frustration from his fraternity about finding housing after college. With Brandt’s experience in real estate, the two joined forces to help their friends find apartments. Brandt “The Matchmaker” used his experience and connections to help people find housing through “relationship management and matchmaking services” where he provides constant matchmaking to housing seekers and young real estate brokers.
After success and satisfaction from a few of their clients, Baker and Brandt realized they had something. The Next Step Realty was born. Brandt says the name came as a “cheesy” take from the popular collegiate movie American Pie as the high school students toasted to the “next step”.
The Next Step Realty
The Next Step Realty's mission is to help promising college graduates find their first home after graduation through a network of 46 brokers in 28 cities including Manhattan, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Boston and Miami. The company’s reach includes popular European cities: London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Milan and Barcelona.
Brandt and Baker bring together brokers and college graduates through their network. For brokers, they have an opportunity to establish a long-term relationship providing a solid client base and immediate revenue from college graduates. For graduates, it is an opportunity to find housing through company’s network brokers and save money while doing it.
Brandt and Baker combed through each city to entice real estate firms and brokers to apply to work with the Next Step Realty. Few were actually chosen. Selection for brokers is an extremely competitive process where only the top-tier applicants are accepted. In New York, there were 300 brokers that applied to be in the network and only 50 were accepted. Brandt says “it’s like getting into Harvard for Brokers.” Upon selection, each broker is given a territory to specialize within a particular city where they will help graduates find housing.
The Next Step Realty connects with clients through its aggressive marketing plan which includes Facebook, events, public relations, viral e-mails and products. Future products in merchandise including shoes, ties, matchbooks, belts and bracelets, which are given to Next Step Realty clients. Also on the horizon are projects with Georgetown rapper Mike Stud and future events in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Washington D.C., and New York. The company is planning to expand to include even more domestic colleges and cities (New Orleans, St. Louis and Nashville) and further expansion in European markets and networks in other countries.
Advice for College Graduates Looking for Housing
- Use a broker in every city you are in. The kids that don’t use brokers typically waste more money than people that do use brokers. Brokers are professionals who represent your interest. This reduces your risk.
- Use a broker that is accomplished and successful, but also young and eager. Because if you are using a friend of a friend they might shove you off and are not necessarily pre-qualified to assist you adequately.
- Stay off Craigslist. It is 90% scams in some cities. It is a method for amateur brokers to bait clients into meetings by presenting too good to be true offers.
- Walking into building alone is always risky unless it is an extremely reputable company because you don’t have anyone protecting your interests.
- Go to The Next Step Realty because we created the company to help solve these problems.